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Facebook Advertising 101: 5 Steps to High-Converting Ads in 2021

By Estes Media on March, 30 2021

You’re a small to medium sized B2C or e-commerce company looking to run effective ad campaigns focussed on conversions and sales. So, how do you do it?! In the 5 steps below, we outline everything you need to know to run effective Facebook ad campaigns in 2021, including audience targeting, creative tactics, testing and tracking, reporting, and so much more. To learn everything you need to know to increase sales and get a higher return on your ad spend, continue reading below.

We’ve compiled first-hand takeaways from years of managing millions of dollars on ad spend, meaning we’ve put our own unique and battle-tested spin on digital ad best practices to help you emulate our success. Brand awareness is always a component of advertising, but because most companies can’t afford to run a brand awareness campaign at full-scale, we’ve instead built this list to focus on conversions and catalogue sales.

 

Let’s get to it!

Step #0: Install a Facebook Pixel

Before embarking on your Facebook advertising campaign, or even running any ad, this is a crucial first step!

 

Add a Facebook pixel to your website as far in advance as possible to begin gathering data about your visitors, including their behavior and traffic. The longer this pixel is on your site, the more data you’ll collect and the better you’ll be able to understand your audience and their trends.

Facebook-Pixel-Helper-Portent

Step #1: Know Your Audience

Everything begins with your audience. To determine how to most accurately and effectively create content that’s going to resonate with your ideal customers, you first need to have a comprehensive understanding of who those customers are.

 

There are long-standing best practices, templates, and documents that aid in this effort but none more prevalent than customer persona development. Customer personas are “characters” or representations of the customers you want to target, and detail everything from demographic information to work and personal details, allowing you to understand their wants, needs, and pain points and accurately create content that caters to them.

 

Hand-in-hand with audience targeting is competitive research around the products and brands that are similar to yours. What unique selling points do they highlight to target their consumers? What do their consumers like or dislike most about competitive products in your market? The better you understand your audience's problems and your competitors’ solutions, the more effectively you can create ads that establish a strong market fit for your product.

 

Keep in mind: you’ll have different audiences for each ad platform or channel, so it’s important to define different audiences for Facebook and Instagram. Facebook audiences tend to be more heavily populated by conservative and Gen X customers, whereas Instagram is composed of a broader, albeit younger millennial/Gen Z crowd. Tailor your customer personas, as well as your ads, accordingly!

 

After all, a clear understanding of your audience will drive not only your ad creative, but your company branding and the wider customer value journey as well.

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Step #2: Work on Your Creative

At the broadest level, your creative needs to match your brand and target audience. A high-end product, for example, needs to have an ad that’s equal in quality. Can you imagine how jarring it would be if a Ferrari commercial were shot on an iPhone with a ring light?

 

Even outside of your ad campaign, every aspect of your branding -- landing pages, website, advertisements, etc. -- need to reflect the same production value as the product itself. If your production value is at odds with your product market fit, you’re creating a dissonance that potential consumers will pick up on and be turned away from.

 

There are many types of ad creatives -- photo, video, gif, etc. -- but each is driven first and foremost by budget. That’s why we recommend starting with a loose budget and working backwards, since this will largely inform and guide what you’re able to do with a campaign. What themes, functionalities, or unique selling propositions can be conveyed in the medium you’re budgeted for? If you have a smaller budget, consider where your product plays best so you can target the most high-converting areas.

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Step #3: Start with Story

Once you’ve determined your budget and the best medium or format for your advertisements, it’s time to draft a unique story that fits it.

 

In advertising, the crux of your product’s story is its Unique Selling Proposition, or USP, which conveys to your audience precisely what problem it aims to solve and how it can uniquely benefit their lives beyond anything else on the market. Ensure your advertisements make a concise and easily-understood promise to the consumer about how your product will enhance their lives, solve their problems, or offer a unique benefit that simply can’t be found elsewhere. 

 

Spell out a direct correlation between the purchase of your product and the receipt of a benefit. Being entertaining is a helpful catalyst in making your brand promise stick, but more important than being “original” or “creative” is telling a crystal clear story about your product’s unique benefit.

 

Your product needs to be the hero of your ad, meaning every creative element serves to spotlight its importance and benefits to the consumer. In many ways your product is your story, so take the time to tell it in the most direct, compelling, and unique way possible.

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Step #4: Tracking & Testing

Tracking is absolutely critical to understanding the successes and failures of your ad campaign and building a comprehensive trove of data to analyze and understand. Doing so is as easy as installing the Facebook Pixel we’ve outlined in Step 0.

 

In terms of testing, there are an overwhelming number of dials to turn on Facebook to improve strategic KPIs. So, where to begin? We’ve created a detailed list below of the top KPIs both within your Facebook campaigns and on your website so you can best determine a path to success. KPIs obviously depend on the goals of the campaign but because most SMBs are focussed squarely on increasing conversions and sales, we’ve identified the metrics most relevant to those goals.

 

TOP FACEBOOK AD KPIs

 

  • Website Purchase Conversion Value. This is improved by product suggestions so consider how and why Amazon suggests products similar to yours and how you can more effectively fit your product into their algorithms.
  • Cost Per Result. This metric is more of a symptom than it is an action item and is indicative of what other KPIs may or may not be working. This is often a mirror of other metrics that may be performing well or poorly. 
  • Amount Spent. This will change per campaign based on how your audience is engaging with ads. If a particular demographic isn’t performing very well, dial that back and re-allot that spend to a demographic that is performing well. 
  • Click-Through Rate (CTR). This will likely vary per campaign, ad set, or even ad depending on how complex or widespread your campaign is. Like the Cost Per Result, CTR is a symptom that lets you know your ad creative or targeting need to be improved.
  • Cost Per Click (CPC). Your CPC is another symptom that signifies the quality of your ad, what your audience is thinking and doing, and what your competition is paying attention to. Very specific niche demographics or heavily saturated markets will both be costly to target. If your ads are irrelevant to your audience or are of low quality, your CPC will be higher than average.
  • Impressions. This allows you to see whether or not your audience is big enough. Impressions are essentially the “wide net” of your campaign, so it needs to be large enough to allow a strong CTR and website conversion value that makes sense for your brand.
  • Results. Are you garnering enough conversions at adequate purchase amounts to make a profit and keep your business afloat? If you spent $1000 on ads to only sell $100 worth of product, it’s time to rethink your campaign.

 

TOP WEBSITE KPIs

 

  • Bounce Rate. This tells a lot about your website’s UX and UI, navigation, and overall ease of use. Websites with a high bounce rate are turning off customers too quickly while those with low rates are succeeding in attracting visitors and keeping them on the website.
  • Time on Site. The more, the merrier! You need to attract and engage your visitor to the point that they’re willing to spend time navigating, learning, and engrossing themselves in your brand. Low time on site indicates a pain point somewhere in the customer value journey.
  • Add to Carts. This metric essentially quantifies intent: if this number is high and comes close to matching your number of conversions, people are interested in your product. If it’s exponentially higher than your conversions, your checkout process could very well be a friction point.
  • Cart Abandonment. The checkout process needs to be as seamless as possible. A few too many clicks, screens, or last-minute fees is often enough for people to second-guess their purchase. If this number is high but conversions are low, your product pricing may be too high for your target audience, or there’s an issue with your checkout’s ease of use.
  • Cart Abandonment Value. This helps inform how much people were willing to invest in your brand before they strike a pain point. Low value could signify low customer intent, whereas high value means it’s all the more important to identify what turned them off from completing checkout.
  • Conversions/Purchases. Is your website actively converting visitors, either organically or through PPC ads that lead to your site? If it’s not, there’s an issue with your customer value journey that needs to be rectified in order to make purchasing easier, clearer, and more intuitive.

 

When turning these dials, it’s extremely important to only lower one at a time until you can understand its domino effect on the rest of your metrics. For example, to lower the Costs Per Conversion, see which KPI is performing worst or which one is easiest to adjust. Similarly, to improve your Add to Carts, check if it’s a UI/UX problem or a pricing issue that may signify a larger issue with your product market fit.

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Step #5: Reporting

Facebook Ads live and die by their data collection, and part of that process is regularly analyzing and reporting the data that’s been collected during the campaign’s lifespan.

 

Many ad managers, including Google and Facebook, collect troves of informative, helpful, and invaluable data automatically, but you should perform your own data collection as well. Build your own proprietary documents that highlight the metrics most indicative of your brand’s success to allow smarter tracking. You should also have documents that detail exactly what changes were made to your accounts and when. If you’re not tracking which dials you turn, you won’t be able to understand exactly what’s responsible for the positive or negative changes.

 

Data collection, analysis, and reporting are the differences between one-off flukes and high-converting, profitable campaigns.

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Successfully advertising on Facebook is both a science and an art that requires diligence, analysis, and creativity to be performed at its best . . . and its most profitable. By following these steps, you can find the perfect market fit for your product and the most effective ways to build high-converting campaigns around it that can help your brand grow and scale.

 

Ready to take your advertising efforts to the next level? If you’re ready to work with an advertising partner who understands your brand and uses unique data-insight and creative strategies to scale, give us a call and let Estes Media guide the way.

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